Lightning is a very dangerous phenomenon. They are responsible for many deaths and serious injuries every year. Lightning rods are installed to protect buildings against the possible impact of lightning, consisting of a metal structure that attracts the lightning directed to a building. The objective of lightning rods is to reduce or eliminate the damage produced by lightning.
How do lightning rods work?
In fact, lightning rods work under a very simple mechanism. Lightning contains a huge amount of energy, which can be disastrous for any object that doesn’t conduct electricity. The main part of this object is a metal rod of some centimetres in diameter. This metal rod is connected to a highly conductive cable, such as copper.
This cable transports the lightning’s electricity underground, where it doesn’t suppose any danger to the building. Because electricity follows the least resistant path, lightning rods help to avoid many fires, and they protect the electric systems of buildings.
The risks of a lightning impact
Lightning can produce more than 100 million volts. Besides from being a mind-blowing number, this kind of voltage is extremely dangerous. Being so hot, the impact of lightning can make explode the materials that don’t conduct electricity.
In a house, the impact of lightning can also damage the electric system, as well as all the devices connected to the electrical current. Moreover, in some cases, lightning can provoke fires in the electric systems of buildings. As electric cables are found inside the walls, the fire isn’t visible.
However, the most surprising effect of lightning comes from its shock waves. When we hear thunder, we are in fact hearing the shock waves provoked by the sudden heating of the air. When lightning impacts a house, these shock waves can damage concrete and bricks. These shock waves can even crack the foundations of the building.